We sat down and had an interview with SVO Vice-President and student veteran Tony Ruscitto’22. Read the interview below about how he decided to join the military and eventually find Syracuse University as his place for higher education
Q: How was your experience getting to Syracuse University?
A: I’m a Syracuse native, and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2013, out of high school. After five years of military service, I saw a crossroads. At 23 I realized if I don’t pursue this opportunity to go to college here now, then I’m going to miss it.
As a kid, I never would have considered coming to Syracuse University. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I thought it was too big. I thought I wasn’t smart enough or capable enough. Fortunately, I had people who were encouraging, and helped me see coming here as a different kind of challenge. In a year, these people have convinced me that yes, I can. They’re making me believe I can do this. I can be part of this team.
Q: How was it transitioning from the military to student life here?
A: It was scary, and a bit of an identity crisis at first. You go from being a very important part of a machine where you have a specific role to something very different. People don’t always have the best experience when they leave the military. Syracuse doesn’t force you to carry that with you. From the moment you step on campus, they’re trying to help you figure out how to leave the uniform behind and get in front of your next mission. As much as they respect what veterans have done, I also appreciate they don’t expect us to put on some kind of show. It’s helped me figure out who Sgt. Ruscitto is and who Anthony Ruscitto is going to be.
A common theme I see among those who struggle with this transition is not getting invested in campus. At first, I lived 30 minutes away. I barely had time to meet friends and missed that sense of community that’s so important for veterans. Every single time Dr. Haynie speaks at our new veteran orientation, his challenge is: Be a college student. It’s a really good point, and when I first heard him, I don’t think I understood it yet. I tried as much as I could. He poses that challenge to each of us, and that advice encouraged me to get out there and be as active as I can. Syracuse offers so many things that allow veterans to still make a difference and be a part of something.